The sky was presently dusky. That man’s black clothes seemed to melt into the darkness as he stood in the corner. Liu Hong had paid much attention to him from the start, because he’d discovered that when he wasn’t looking at him, he actually couldn’t sense his existence in the slightest.

Hall master Wu said: “Division master Liu, let me introduce you to a great man.” He arrogantly addressed Liu Hong by his own name when the latter was many years older than him, but his expression immediately became a little flattering when mentioning the black-clothed man, a little proud of himself, happy he could have built a relations.h.i.+p with this kind of grand character: “This sir is lord Feng of the Eagle Wolf Guard.”

“Eagle Wolf Guard!” Liu Hong’s heart jumped and he swallowed a mouthful of saliva. How could he not have heard of those famous hunting dogs of the imperial court. No wonder hall master Wu had such an att.i.tude, even the Iron Fist Gate headquarters’ master Tie Buyi would also have to carefully attend to him. No wonder hall master Wu had so much confidence. With the Eagle Wolf Guard stepping in, who would still dare to make him spit out something he ate down.

Lord Feng said faintly without even turning his head back, “I don’t deserve so much praise from hall master Wu. Our Eagle leader only promised you once because he shared a few cups of wine with your Iron Gate master in Blessed Peace City. I still have things waiting for me in Blessed Peace, I can’t tarry too long.”

Blessed Peace was a great city hundred miles away from Suncheer. It not only had a great river flowing through that made it an extremely important waterway hub, it also had mines and quarries. It was far more flouris.h.i.+ng than a small city like Suncheer. Hall master Wu’s Iron Locks Hall was precisely established there, and its domain encompa.s.sed seven divisions, including Suncheer. There was also an Eagle Wolf Guard office there.

Hall master Wu said: “Right right right, we’ll certainly not trouble lord Feng overly. Division master Liu, why aren’t you still quickly telling that Li Qingshan to come.”

Liu Hong didn’t even dare use his sect disciples to run this errand. He went to find Li Qingshan himself after exhorting Dragon Li to carefully wait upon them.

Dragon Li had also vaguely heard Liu Hong mention the Eagle Wolf Guard before, but that world had been too far removed from him, so he hadn’t paid much mind to it. He hadn’t expected he would see one with his own eyes today, and he couldn’t help but worry about Li Qingshan: Qingshan probably won’t be able to hold onto the spirit ginseng this time. I still have to persuade him if he tries to be brave.

He hadn’t had much dealings with Li Qingshan. This was only the plain and primitive affection of fellows from the same village. Moreover Li Qingshan’s martial arts were much greater than his, and he would be able to look after him if he were to join the Iron Fist Gate. He suddenly remembered the words Liu Hong had said back then in the restaurant, about making Li Qingshan take many cares of himself; it had probably in antic.i.p.ation of this present day. He felt ever more emotions for Liu Hong’s grace.

There was no one who could obtain news faster and more efficiently than Liu Hong inside the city. He found Li Qingshan very fast, and told him: “Qingshan, my gate’s Iron Locks Hall’s hall master Wu came over, he wants to meet you, he has some matters he wants to discuss with you.” His brain was revolving at high speed as he thought about how to tell this matter to Li Qingshan as smoothly as possible. But at the same time he didn’t dare reveal too much either, fearing it might scare Li Qingshan into running away.

Li Qingshan said: “Even so, there was no need for sect master Liu to run this errand in person.”

Liu Hong was a little embarra.s.sed. The ranks were clearly distinguished inside their order. A hall master was one level higher compared to division masters and sub-gate masters. Those who could become hall masters were all first-grade experts, so they could naturally order about a division master like him.

“That pain in the a.s.s hall master of yours also came for the spirit ginseng right? I was just about to go to Suncheer House1 and make things clear about this matter, you let the hall master go there and have a listen!” Li Qingshan didn’t stop his steps as he forged ahead toward his goal, walking through streets and past alleys.

Liu Hong quickly followed beside him: “This is absolutely unacceptable. I’m also doing this for your own good.”

The two of them walked through a narrow alley. Suddenly there was a big monk blocking the mouth of the alley, holding a black steel Buddhist staff2. He laughed mischievously as he looked at Li Qingshan. His face was already fierce-looking to begin with, and there was even a sinister scar cutting across. The laugh made it seem even more ferocious.

Liu Hong was greatly alarmed: “The Mad Monk Empty Slaughter!”

Li Qingshan looked at the brilliantly twinkling staff. It was yet another spiritual weapon. Indeed, so-called spiritual devices weren’t especially rare in this world.

Liu Hong didn’t dare to look at Empty Slaughter as he said in a quiet voice: “This man was once of the Baoling temple of outstanding fame inside the rivers and lakes, and served as a monk. Because of his heavy drinking and fondness for killing, he violated the rules of the temple and was expelled out from the temple gates. His mad nature exploded and he killed the crowd of monks inside the temple with the one hundred eight moves of his Mad Demon Staff Arts. He then changed his name to Empty Slaughter and murdered for money unhindered across the lands. There aren’t even any chicken or dog are left behind anywhere he goes. It’s said that he’d long ago reached the peak of the first-grade master realm, only a step away from an innate master.”

There were also quite a few men of the martial world observing this scene from the dark. They whispered: “It’s really Empty Slaughter, never thought he’d actually come.” “Alas, looks like there won’t be any opportunity left for us.” “Stop talking, hurry to leave, we won’t be able to keep living if he finds us.” His ominous fame was truly resounding.

Empty Slaughter said: “Kid, take out the spirit ginseng and I’ll leave your corpse whole. I’ll perform ceremonies for your soul to find peace, and afterwards I’ll even burn ritual money every year for you.”

“I’ll talk about the matter of the spiritual ginseng in the restaurant. If you want it then come listen!” Li Qingshan sniffed, keenly smelling the flavor of alcohol on the monk’s body, the flavor of grease, as well as the scent of blood. His steps continued forward.

The Buddhist staff wave fiercely down, its iron rings bursting out with urgent cries.

Li Qingshan finally stopped his feet. The staff stopped only a hairbreadth away from the tip of his nose, the wild wind blowing up his hair.

“Sect leader Liu, you better first go back!” His voice appeared very serene on the surface, yet it also seemed like a volcano on the verge of exploding. The blood that had been still and silent for a long time finally boiled up.

Empty Slaughter became thoroughly enraged by Li Qingshan’s disregard. He displayed the full might of the Hundred And Eight Moves Mad Demon Staff Art. The black staff broke through the air with a pointed hiss and transformed into layers upon layers of staff blurs, madly gus.h.i.+ng forth like the tide.

The small alley was narrow and there was absolutely no place to hide. Li Qingshan clenched his fists, the bones of his hands making explosive crackling sounds as he faced the layers of staff blurs head on, not retreating but advancing instead.

How would Liu Hong dare to be caught in the middle of a battle between those two. He turned around and fled out of the alley. He heard rumbles booming behind him together with the screams of strong winds. The fierce battle between the two was in full swing.

Li Qingshan s.h.i.+fted and toss about among the staff blurs. It was the first time he was witnessing the frightfulness of a first-grade master. The moves were not only strong and heavy, they were also meticulous and exquisite, not exposing any shred of opening. They firmly blocked Li Qingshan three steps away, not giving him any opportunity to close in.

“Clang Clang Clang Clang!”

The s.p.a.ce available for Li Qingshan to dodge to was after all limited inside the small alley. His fists collided with the staff and produced a succession of loud cries, like the clashes of metal against metal.

Empty Slaughter was a little aghast inside. What martial arts did this kid practice, he could actually frontally block his Mad Demon Staff with flesh and blood. But that aroused his vicious nature all the more. He strung together the strength of his entire body and smashed his staff down straight to the head. The momentum was dreadful to the extreme.

Li Qingshan’s eyes shone bright all of a sudden. He’d spied the trace of an opening. He dashed forward and turned his fists into claws, trying to seize Empty Slaughter’s middle dantian3, but he suddenly saw Empty Slaughter’s face expose a smirk not matching with his crude and forthright image. A great sense of foreboding rose in his heart. “Not good!”

Empty Slaughter suddenly changed his move. The staff switched from a chop to a horizontal sweep. That strike just then was unexpectedly a feint. The narrow alley restricted the display of this move, but rubble collapsed from the tall walls when the staff waved around, entirely unable to obstruct it.


The staff struck Li Qingshan and sent him flying and cras.h.i.+ng into the wall. The wall collapsed, and he tumbled into a courtyard, sweeping up a cloud of dust. Li Qingshan rolled several times on the ground. His insufficient battle experience had acost him this loss.

1. In case you missed it or forgot, Suncheer House is Suncheer’s biggest restaurant, first seen when Ye Dachuan held a banquet there together with Li Qingshan to gather money and men to fight the Black Wind Camp.

2. A staff with an ornamental head at one end, with often rings looped inside.

3. The “middle dantian” is a Chinese medicine spot in the middle of the chest. The “dantian” referred to in most xianxia stories would technically be the “lower dantian,” while the “upper dantian” is located in the head/brain. The words can also mean castration though, I almost went with that…

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